Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is a profession that applies the basic principles of science in conjunction with mathematical and computational tools to solve problems associated with developing and sustaining civilized life on our planet. As a civil engineer, you'll take on unique projects that require cooperation among professionals of many different disciplines. Some of the most common examples of civil engineering works include bridges, buildings, dams, airports, highways, tunnels, and water distribution systems. Civil engineers are concerned with flood control, landslides, air and water pollution, and the design of facilities to withstand earthquakes and other natural hazards.

The civil and environmental engineering department at Illinois comprises seven traditional areas (construction engineering and management, construction materials engineering, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation engineering, and water resources engineering and science) and three interdisciplinary programs (sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems; energy-water-environment sustainability; and societal risk management). Although each area has its own special body of knowledge and engineering tools, they all rely on the same fundamental core principles. Civil engineering projects often draw expertise from many of these areas and programs.

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  • Our civil and environmental engineering program is ranked #3 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 90% of students reported having an internship or co-op during their degree program.
  • 97% of students reported securing their first choice destination upon graduation.
  • The average starting salary for a civil and environmental engineering graduate is $74,098, with an average signing bonus of $3,000.

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Your path to Grainger Engineering starts with connecting your passion and interests with the opportunities available in one of our 15 top-ranked major programs. Explore your options and gather the information you need to take the next step and apply.

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What You'll Study

Civil engineers apply basic science principles to address society's biggest challenges.  Our curriculum is designed to guarantee you will gain a breadth of knowledge in the civil engineering disciplines through a set of core courses, as well as to ensure depth and focus in certain disciplines through a primary and secondary area of specialization. The curriculum develops the basic engineering tools necessary to solve problems in the field of civil engineering, as well as opportunities to explore where the state-of-practice is headed in civil engineering.

You’ll take courses in physics and math, chemistry, theoretical and applied mechanics, and general engineering courses. Your last two years as an undergraduate will consist of studying a primary or secondary area of study within the department.

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Minor in Computer Science

The CS Minor is offered for students seeking significant knowledge of digital computing without the more complete treatment of a major in computer science. This minor may be taken by any student except majors in the Computer Science degree programs and in Computer Engineering.

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Post-Graduation Success

The career paths available to the civil engineer are many and varied and can involve a wide range of activities, tools, situations, clients, and venues—from conceptual design of facilities that do not yet exist to forensic study of facilities that have failed to perform as expected, from advanced simulation of complex systems to the management of people and projects, and from private consulting to public service.

In addition to the educational objectives that apply to all engineering programs, civil engineers must be as well prepared for a career that traverses this considerable professional breadth as for a career focused on a single professional activity. The civil engineering curriculum is specifically designed to meet this educational challenge by emphasizing fundamental knowledge, transferable skills, and lifelong learning.

Graduates entering the workforce commonly pursue careers in air & water quality/purification, construction management, energy-water-food nexus, forensic engineering, foundation design, green & blue infrastructure, hazard mitigation, material manufacturing & design, risk management, site remediation, solid & hazardous waste management, structural design, transportation systems, water resources planning & design. The average salary for civil engineering grads from 2022-2023 was reported as $74,098 with an average signing bonus of $3,000.

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employed or continuing education*

employed after graduation

attending graduate school

average starting annual income*

Sample employer destinations: Turner Construction Company, Kiewit, Lendlease View All

Sample grad school destinations: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley View All

*Post-graduate data was collected through the Illini Success initiative, which primarily relies on self-reported survey data sources. Statistics reported are from 202-2023. Please note that total compensation may be greater than annual salary as other forms of compensation (e.g., signing bonus, commission, benefits) are not included. For more information on Illini Success data and methods, please visit the Illini Success website.

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Applying to The Grainger College of Engineering opens the door to your future as a successful engineer. Get started by scheduling a visit, requesting information, or submitting your application.